Skip to main content

Full text of "Herbert Clarence Burleigh fonds - Family files series - Folger"

See other formats








'■:^.-^.^^-:i^,;^-.j,i..^r 'v:^^--<^^^>:-v..,'...'r.^^ 




This widely known firm, 6f Kingston, Ontario, 
whose portraits precede this sketch, consists of B,W, 
Polger, horn in 1838; Henry Polger, in 1842, and F.A. 
Folger, in 1851, all at Capte Vincent, Jefferson county, 
N.y. They were sons of FREDERICK A POLGER and LAURA 

FOLGER, the father being a descendant of Captain 
MATTHBV FOLGER, of Nantucket, Mass. Their mother was 
a Miss BRECK, a sister of the junior partner in the 
Canadian firm of Calvin & Breck, Frederick A, Folger 

emigrated to Cape Vincent just after the War of 1812-15, 
and cast his lot at that small country village on the 
St.Lav;rence River, near its source. He was a man of 
fine intellectual girth and grain, and a poetic vein 
ran through his composition. He was a ready writer, an 
excellent critic of literary work, and full of appreciative 
knowledge of the value of good books. He possessed 
business talents of a high order, and had he settled 
in a large' town, he would have grasped every sound 
opportunity to lay the solid foundation of a large for- 
tune. His lamented death, at the early age of 43, was 
a sad closing of a most promising career; and the follow- 
ing tribute from a contemporary newspaper will show in 
what high esteem he was held by those who knew his worth 
and mourned his loss: "Died, on the 28th of September, 
at Cape Vincent, in the 43d year of his age, F.A, Polger, 
Esq., the idol of his family, the ornament of the social 
circle, the useful citizen, the benefactor of the poor, 
the friend of man. Cut off in the midst of his years 
and his labors for the public good, his death will be 
universally and deeply deplored." This tribute proves 
how strong a place he had won in the hearts of the people 
where he lived and died. As he was the father of a family 
that is no doubt destined to fill a large place in the 
history of commercial and general affairs in the section 
where they were born, it will be in order to refer to 
the early history of its pioneers. The following is 
copied from a Nantucket newspaper, and shows the origin 
and fame of the Folgers, in connection with that historic 
town: "Nantucket has been wonderfully prolific of great 
men and women. Among the first families on the island 
were the Macys, The folgers are another noteworthy 
race. The only child of »Peber Polger,' born after 
his removal from Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket, was 

Abiah, who, in her young maidenhood, removed to Boston 



and married Jonah Franklin, the tallow chandler. The 
fifteenth child by this marriage was Benjamin Franklin, 
the philosopher. The mother in talent and worth is 
said to have "been every way worthy of her illustrious 
son. Another member of this family was Charles J.Folger, 
the present Secretary of the Treasury, who was born in 
Nantucket, in a house which stood on the site of the 
present Sherbourne House, on Orange street," Captain 
Matthew Folger, the grandfather of the subjects of this 
biographical notice, was an adventurous spirit of his 
stirring times, and figured conspicuously in marine 
matters. The Folger Bros, inherit the love of marine 
affairs, for the name of Folger has long been prominent 
in this line. It was a Folger who gave the best theory 
of the Gulf Stream; it was a Captain Folger who rescued 
the mutineers of the "Bounty" from Pitcairn Island, Miss 
Breck, who became the happy and worthy wife of Frederick 
A, Folger, was largely endowed with gentle and loving 
qualities of head and heart, and her influence in 
moulding the character of her boys was pure and commai d- 
ing. She still lives, in the full possession of all 
her faculties, to enjoy the well won success of her 
fatherless sons. 

These brothers were led to locate in the Canadian 
city of Kingston in 1862, and were no doubt influenced 
to do so through their relationship to Mr. Breck, through 
the marriage of his sister to their father. He was the 
junior partner in the famous firm of Calvin & Breck, who 
were for years lords of the river on the Canadian side, 
in steamboat and rafting operations. Their headquarters 
were at Garden Island, and from this point many mil- 
lions of dollars worth of timber were put in shape to 
be rafted down the rapids of the St. Lawrence for re- 
shipment ot Europe, It may not be generally known 
that some of the oak which entered into the construction 
of Nelson»s flagship, the immortal "Victory," and 
on whose deck the great English naval hero received his 
death wound at Trafalgar, was cut from the southern 
bank of the St,Larence between Cape Vincent and Clayton, 
and put into rafts at the foot of Long Island for 
floating to Quebec. Such is the interesting historic 
fact, and the old piers can still be seen at this point 
which were used in the rafting operations of that time. 

Prom 1862 to the present day the firm of Folger 
Bros, has been the best known and most active of any 
business house in Kingston, Their history has been one 

continuous growth in many lines of business. With their 




up to the 

nov7, nor have their ever 


banking business, first established, they have large 
interests now in the Electric Street Railway Company 
of Kingston, the Gas and Electric Light Company, the 
Kingston Real Estate Company, the Kingston and Pembroke 
Railway Company, North American Telegraph Company and 
the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Island Steamboat 
Companies, These large and important businesses are all 
in first rate condition, and are proof of the business 
energy and tact of the Brothers Polger. They are known 
over a wide section of Canada and the Stares for their 
upright ane downright business ways, their great enter- 
prise and far-seeing calculations as to commercial 
affairs. These brothers h_ave always held equal interests 
In their business concerns, and present a remarkable 
instance of family concord of the most Intimate and 
cordial character, extending from 
present time. There are not 

been, the slightest differences in their family or 
business associations; and the result Is shown in 
Industrial enterprises carried on by them in all the 
harmony and smoothness of a single master-mind. If 
they were to express an opinion as to the reasons for 
their success in life, they would quite likely attribute 
It to the strong family ties which have made them all 
work together with the greatest zeal and harmony. Owing 
no doubt to the trait of character developed so fully 
in their paternal grandfather, they take a llvdly Interest 
in the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Island Steamboat 
Companies, They first developed and consolidated and 
systematized the large tourist and general traffic on 
the upper reaches of the noble river. They have 
carried over 5,000,000 of people on their steamers, add 
never wet a foot or Injured a passenger. This remarkable 
record is as unique as it Is creditable to the safe and 
wise manner in which this vast human commerce has been 
carried on for so many years. No expense or pains 
are spared to safely and suitably equip and man their 
passengers steainers, and their names are an assurance 
of thoughtful and competent management from deck hand 
to captain. Of the three brothers — each with special 
characteristics in a business way — Henry Polger is 
perhaps the best known outside of the imnediate business 
management in and about Kingston, 
the firm in all outside matters, 
fine accomplishments, and a great 
circle of friends includes many of 

He generalljr represents 
He is a gentleman of 
lover of books. His 

the leading public 

men, of the Dominion and of the United States, and he is 



: VA&,.'. 



highl^r respected by all. His generous interest in the 
poor and needy are such as to endear him to those who 
are familiar with his unostentatious charities. He 
dislikes notoriety of any sort, and his modest bene- 
factions are in consequence never heralded about. 

The following interesting sketch from the Ottawa 
"Citizen," a leading Canadian journal, published at 
the capital of the Dominion, in speaking of the remor 
that he was to be appointed to an important position, 

"The Kingston News announces that Mr. Henry Polger, 
of that ancient city, is to be appointed general manager 
of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company, Tilr, 
Polger is a member of the firm of Polger Brothers, who 
control the gas, electric light and street railway 
companies in Kingston, who own the island ferries 
there, are principal stockholders in the St,Lav;rence 

River Navigation Company, are largely engaged in 
mining in the county of Prontenac, and manage the 
Kingston & -t^embroke Railway as representatives of 
the Flower interest. He is a particularly shrewd 
capable business man, farsight ed and sagacious, 
fertile in resources, with tact to win men and talent 
to govern men; possessed, moreover, with the genuine 

Yankee spirit of restless enterprise. Should he 
assume the management of the Richelieu Company, the 
great opportunities which that organization possesses 
of attracting travel to the splendid and \me quailed 
water route down the great lakes from Toronto to Quebec 
will be developed to the utmost, and a new era will open 
up for the travelling multitudes as well as for the 
stockholders, Mr, Polger is known in private as a wit 
and epigrammatist, and in public as one of the most 
brilliant after-dinner speakers in Canada, He possesses 
a taste for literature and an acquaintance with the best 
authors, as well as discriminating insight into their 
work, which are seldom met with in such a sharp and 
energetic man of affairs," 

This high commendation was merited, and is produced 
in this connection as independent testimony of a valuable 
kind, as showing the esteem in which he is held by the 
first authorities in the county where he now resides. 

Several years ago, B,V1/, Polger, the senior member 
of the firm, distinguished himself by the vigorous manner 
in which he resented a discourtesy to the American flag 


'"""'"''" ■^>.-='x^^v^ 


in Canada, It is the special aim of this member of the 
firm to watch every minute detail of the various businesses 
in which they are interested. Cool in judgment, keen 
in his knowledge of men and affairs, and of wide resources 
in a business way, the senior member is a rare helper 
in all that pertains to their public enterprises. Fred 
Polger, the youngest of the firm, combines the food 
qualities of his brothers, is very popular, and has 
ability of a high order. If he is less-widely known 
than his brothers, it is only ecause he is younger, 
for in all high business equipment he is their peer. 
He will not fall to bear aloft the firm's banner of 
untiring zeal and unquestioned integrity, so long as 

he is spared to do so. This strong trio of brothers 
have made for themselves, before the climacteric of 
life has been reached, a good and famous name and 
history worthy of emulation, and an honor to the en- 
vironments in which their business lot and lives have 
been cast. Their example is worthy of the highest 






10 ^^^A.--C n-\% 





^ -> IT ° 

i i-^o 

Ji: -iro — 

tA- ^ . f,\j 

LaJfl-* \ik4